About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

Travel vs. Moving

I love to travel, which is probably a good thing, because I’ve spent all my life moving, from one place to another. I’m going to give the short blog, list version of my travels….

Long Island to Fort Lauderdale, FL

Fort Lauderdale to Grand Rapids, MI

Grand Rapids to Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh to Manila, Phillippines [a side trip to see the Pope and visit distant family there]–a once in a lifetime opportunity that I earned by writing an essay. Paid-for-trip by the Knights of Columbus… I always stick a dollar in their Tootsie Roll fundraising. 😀

In here, I travelled the country with a mission group, stopping in many states of the western side of the United States–MN, WI, KS, OK, TX, NM, CA, CO…

Pittsburgh to Fairfax, VA

Fairfax to Steubenville, OH [for college, where I got married]

Steubenville to Denver, CO [for husband’s post-grad]

Denver to Steubenville, OH [back to our old stomping ground to start off “real life”] ***also where I started writing!!

Steubenville to Fairfax, VA [where we lived with my parents and husband studied for the CPA exam]

Fairfax to Decatur, IL

….and then we joined the ARMY! haha.

Moving vs. Travelling

There are always two sides of the moving coin. The excitement of starting off new, of tweaking behavior, trying something different. And the sadness of leaving friends and family behind. I think what I love about moving around so much is the chance to grow more roots, make new friends. Find something different to make my life fuller. Maybe the truth is…I’m not much of a traveller at all. I like being home. Maybe that’s why I’m destined to move so much.

Now, if I could just get the Army to move us to Belize! or Ireland! or Spain–for a season! 😀 Have a great weekend, folks. Enjoy where you are.

And don’t forget to comment for a chance to win this month’s prize.

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

Guest Post — Gina Conkle

How Do You Feel About Adventures?

Years ago my oldest son asked that question while we ran errands.  He was near the end of kindergarten and summer stretched before us. But, his simple question started a family tradition that we all love — The Adventure List.

Every summer and Christmas break, our family makes a wish list of things we want to do on poster-sized paper.  Sometimes our quests are simple: see the latest superhero movie, day at the fair, or go-karts.

Once in a while, we get brave and go big.

Our latest plan?  Tallinn, Estonia for Christmas!

Maybe you’re scratching your head…Estonia-where?  Then you consult a map and see how close Estonia is to the Arctic-freakin’-Circle!

But here’s a few gems to consider:

iStock_000011311558Small-Tallinn Old Market Square decorated for Christmas*Tallinn, Estonia’s home to one of Europe’s best preserved medieval old towns.  Why not celebrate the holiday at the Christmas Market on Raekoja Plats (Town Hall Square) decorated for the season in Middle Ages style?

Tallin_Tavern*Need to keep warm? Try Black Pepper Schnapps in one of Europe’s oldest still-in-business taverns.  That ceiling? It’s over 700 years old.

*Like variety? Explore a multi-cultural mix of architecture: German built castles, Russian Onion Dome churches, and Baroque Kadriog Palace (when Peter the Great ran Estonia) all in the same city.  But, if that’s not old enough for you…

Old town of Tallinn Estonia*Talinn’s Old Town is 62 square miles of antiquity ready to be explored.  A UNESCO site, the Old Town boasts archaic shops with people still living in medieval buildings.  And the pharmacy? Opened in 1422 and famed for everything from marzipan to “powdered unicorn horn” (for male potency)! Even Russian Tsars ordered medicine from that very shop.

iStock_000004151112Small-Pepper Pot turrets, Tallinn*Do you like wi-fi and a cappuccino with your history? Tallin’s counted among the top ten digital cities in the world. You can experience the past with present comforts. While sipping your hot beverage, meander past pepper pot turrets, architecture that was all the rage in castle building from the 13th century through the Renaissance.


Alexander Nevsky Cathedral*But if that’s not old enough for you, learn about war-like Oeselians (Estonian Vikings) whose relics are thankfully found only in museums.  Ptolemy wrote about them in Geography III (2nd century BC), and famed Viking skald Snorri Sturluson recorded their antics in Norse Sagas.

Now, we’re getting to time periods I love.

Archaeologists recently uncovered a rich Viking grave site (a two ship burial) on the Estonian island of Saaremaa, and I plan to visit those Norse artifacts in toasty, warm Tallinn museums.

Not a bad list of offerings for a place once described by a Muslim cartographer as “a small town.”

Adventure comes in all shapes and sizes, but sometimes going off the beaten path yields the best treasures.

What’s on your Adventure List?


19129_255294294601511_2017641803_n_(397x349)Gina’s a lover of history, books and romance, which makes the perfect recipe for historical romance writer.  Her passion for castles and old places (the older and moldier the better!) means interesting family vacations.  Good thing her husband and two sons share similar passions, except for romance…that’s where she gets the eye roll.  When not visiting fascinating places, she can be found in southern California delving into the latest adventures of organic gardening and serving as chief taxi driver.

On my website: http://ginaconkle.com/

On twitter: https://twitter.com/ginaconkle

On Facebook: http://on.fb.me/180kL1y

On Pinterest: http://bit.ly/180l9gu


Norse_Jewel-800pxDon’t miss Gina’s Latest release, Norse Jewel

A stolen woman of rare qualities…
Helena, a captive woman, wants her freedom. The Frankish maid wasn’t born a slave but marauding Danes have taken her and she’s desperate to escape their camp.  Her savior comes as a fierce Norse chieftain, Hakan, who takes her far north.

A hard Norseman who’s lived by the sword…
Hakan wants to lay down his sword and live a peaceful farmer’s life. Betrayal left him cold to other women, yet his heart thaws to clever Helena. She lures him with kindness, weaving happiness that’s short lived. Deceit and old loyalties vex the warrior, calling upon his sword arm.

A clash of cultures amidst a kingdom in transition…
War erupts…a kingdom’s in the balance. Can Hakan defend his homeland and save the woman he loves?


About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

Like Oil and Water


It NEVER looks so peaceful!!

Let’s face it…

After starting this blog entry three different times, I have to to admit, I’m not a summer person. I don’t like the heat. I’m not a fan of humidity.

My stories don’t often include The Beach…or boats, towels, pails, or pina coladas.

Once in a great while. That’s it for me. Like my story, Dark Summer, which takes place in Belize, during the late summer months. And also, Flashback, which is an early summer story set on the banks of North Carolina.

Give me a cozy cabin story, anyday. A hike through high altitudes when the rest of the country is sweltering, but I am enjoying wonderful 70 degree air. That’s me….

I remember being a kid and visiting Lake Michigan, during the winter months. Snow banks, ice, and COLD wind, blowing off the water.

Sybils_Cabin_Winter_Rear_2There are many things to like about summer, and I can enjoy a summer day just as much if not more than a winter day [when my husband’s with me], but over all, I’m a fall/winter kind-of-gal.

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

Guest Post — Christy Gissendaner

Summer…is there anything better? The humid days and sweltering temperatures of the Deep South are quite an experience. Not even Vegas in 106 degree weather can compare. Trust me, I’ve been there! But there is one thing I love about summer and that’s the summer blockbusters. Independence Day? Armageddon? Yes, I was sitting there on the front row on opening night.

            This year, I haven’t made it to the theater as much as I would like. Fast and the Furious is actually the only movie I made it to this summer. But oh…how it was worth it! When The Rock was added to the franchise in the last movie, I thought nothing could top it. But as the movie drew to a close on the last minute of the latest, I got the shock of my life.

I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t seen the movie, but they topped it. They fricking topped it. All I want to know is how long I have to wait until the next one. Three of my top five actors sharing the big screen? Testosterone, baby, and I can’t wait!

I’m still under the impression that the producers are somehow tapping into my brainwaves. Seriously…all we need is LL Cool J and Justin Timberlake to make a cameo and I’d be in hog heaven.

Hear that Hollywood big shots? I want LL and Justin. No need to perform undercover mindreading on me. I’ll just put that out there for ya’ll.

So what is it about this franchise that makes bank? There’s a science to it I’m sure. Hot cars? Check. Hot girls? Check check. Hot men? (fanning self) Do I really need to answer that? But there’s got to be more, right? Certainly not the unbelievable, never happen in a million years, stunts. Right? I’m still chuckling over the fact that a car could bring down a plane. Although I guess it’s understandable. If you told me The Rock and Vin Diesel were in a plane a few feet above my head, I’d probably do whatever it took to bring it down too. ; )

So are there any other fans of Fast here? If so, let me hear your excitement. And, as the hubby constantly reminds me, we haven’t seen near enough movies lately. What’s your pick for the best summer blockbuster?


coverC.GissendanerA Touch of Sin
Out of Bounds Book One

Book Description:

Julie Hendricks is a thirty-year-old workaholic who goes to her friend’s bar to meet him for a drink. It’s her first night out in years, and she envisions a normal evening. Instead, she meets Sin, a sexy karaoke DJ who’s not what he seems, and her idea of normal goes completely out the window.

Sin is actually Taliesin, the Welsh god of music and wisdom. For fun, he helps his old college football buddy at the local bar, Out of Bounds. His buddy’s prim friend captures his attention, and he soon reveals more of himself than he usually does.

Julie’s attraction to Sin is immediate, even though she doubts she could ever please a god. When her friend’s business is threatened, Julie must help hunt down the enemy while resisting falling in love with the dangerously intriguing Sin.


Christy Gissendaner is a romantic comedy author and believes that laughter and love should go hand in hand.

Christy lives in Alabama with her husband and three sons. She is always hard at work on her next novel, but in her spare time she loves blackjack, karaoke, and anything resembling a vacation!

To find out more, please visit






Don’t forget, every comment is entered to win a GC to Amazon! + a copy of Nina Croft’s July release, Losing Control.

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

Wedding… eh

2013-06-09 11.26.11

I’m going to step over a few boundaries…being a romance writer and all…and I’m going to blog about why the wedding just isn’t the Cat’s Meow [for me, anyway]. An era [or two] ago, the wedding was the pinnacle, the day girls dreamed about…the brass ring [or the gold one].

I’m a huge advocate for weddings. I’ll admit to crying when I go to them. I love the dancing, the food, the dressing up. If you’re lucky…free drinks, too!

But, the truth is… It’s a day, a start to something much bigger.

[Disclaimer –>] Its importance [for me] is the sacrament it brings to the relationship, the Grace of a blessing from above [cuz most of us need that like air to breathe]. Perhaps if you’re not Christian the importance might be the legal binding it adds to the relationship… or the tax break. 😉

But as a married person, the wedding day seems more like the catalyst to everything else. As a writer, I believe that it’s the journey, not the goal, that is important. That being the case, the wedding is…eh. Wear white, wear red, wear black. None of that will change who you are and how you’ll need to change or grow in order to live in peace with your best friend. It won’t change the trials you go through, the highs of being in love, and the lows of being hurt.

2013-06-09 07.24.47

When I finish a story and I think to myself… epilogue or no epilogue??? I’ll tap my pencil on my desk and think. What do I want to show? It’s NEVER the wedding day. It’s always beyond that…to the real HEA. The joys of married life and having someone beside you through thick and thin.

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

The Wedding Photographer

melanie reyes photographySeven years ago, when my husband changed careers, we moved across country. Being pregnant for the third time in three years made for an added adjustment which lead me to the place where I desperately needed a hobby. That “hobby” quickly spiraled into something that became not only my career but a life-giving source. Photographing weddings in particular has become my passion, it fills me with energy and joy and hope.


Whether I’m photographing my own four children or a wedding I always try to keep a long term perspective. I am passionate and amazed at the power of a photograph. I love how a photo leaves its mark on history.

In a wedding, this translates to my excitement in capturing stories of the wedding day. If you’ve been married you know how much of a whirlwind the wedding day can be. I am a photographer to preserve those stories. It might be the groom who insisted upon bow ties (they are in style!) but didn’t check to see if anyone attending the wedding knew how to tie one (it took HOURS to try, use YouTube to learn, and finally find someone that could) or the bride who ended up at the church without a crochet hook just 45 minutes before the wedding with a hundred buttons to be hooked all the way down her back.boganPreviews_009

I will tell you the most meaningful and heartfelt weddings have been those weddings where the bride and groom fully understand and have experienced how powerful a photograph can be in its place in history.

Two of my favorite weddings: one that was moved up months earlier because a bride’s mother was on the brink of losing her battle with cancer – and another wedding where the bride lost a brother just months before she walked down the aisle. The people gathered for those celebrations got it. They, like me, saw how photographs played their part in history.


To me that’s what’s so powerful about a wedding. It’s the pressure of capturing a once in a lifetime event. It’s the power of preserving the memory of the tears in your eyes as you say your vows, of your father giving you away and dancing one last dance with you, of your sisters and brothers and mothers standing by your side. Capturing you with a grandparent that might not make the next family wedding or your new spouse overcome with joy. This week, I met with a bride who booked a wedding for next year, telling me how she will be married in the same church her grandmother and mother got married in – THAT is what I love. That is something to capture and celebrate – grandmother, mother and daughter together in that church saying “I do.”

boganPreviews_035For me the key in successfully photographing the true emotion and feelings expressed on the wedding day depends on one thing – my own personal connection to those people. I don’t want to book a wedding, not speak to them for the next year and then show up at their wedding to follow them around for the day as a stranger. I want to know my clients. I want to know the bride and groom as a couple, to capture them as friends, to celebrate this amazing day as someone who (along with friends and family) is cheering them on in the steps they are taking. People make your wedding. The joy and excitement that your family and friends share makes your wedding individual and unique. And THAT is truly worth capturing well.

LaBelle_Prep_051113_039So, it is true. I cry. I cry at most weddings. My favorite captures throughout the day are: the father seeing his daughter for the first time, the groom seeing his beloved… The look on the couples’ faces as they come down the aisle as Mr and Mrs, the speeches (oh. How I love the speeches), and the first dances.


Thanks to my sister for inviting me! I love being able to share the joy my work brings to my life. 🙂


Melanie Reyes is Bethanne’s beautiful and talented sister. She hails from Ann Arbor, Michigan. You can find out more about her work online…

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About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

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